Johnny Walker Blue

The water from the tap is brown again today. I am told by the crack DOC personnel that this brown water is safe to drink. I suppose that is why they all bring water in from the streets and do not even want to wash their hands in this brown muck.

Seriously, there is something inherently disgusting about water that you must first chew before you can swallow. You could just heat it up and pretend it is a cup of weak coffee. Or you could, as the prison laundry does, dye your white tee shirts and shorts a nice ecru color. Maybe paint the walls of your segregation cells. Do not worry about the smell of the water. That, too, is safe to snort. What works for me (when my tongue is swollen from thirst) is that I first turn out the lights in the cell so I don't have to see the color of the water. I haven't died yet, so perhaps brown water is the new clear (pardon the pun).

I remember drinking water from feces-filled rice paddies in Vietnam and feeling safer about that water than I do about this prison fluid. At lease in Nam they gave us Halizone tablets to help purify the water and prevent diseases. I heard one screw telling a guy to "Toughen up" when he complained about the water. Hmmm? How would I have responded to that statement? "Thank You Sir! May I have another?" "You Sir, are much too kind?" What would you have said?

See, they made the grievance process so convoluted that just getting this issue brought to the correct desk is damn near a feat of Hurculean proportions. Then, if you are lucky enough to be heard by a suit, you get a letter in reply that generally goes: "Thank you for your letter. We are aware of the problem and are currently investigating it further. I hope this addresses your concerns." Yet, "the investigation" goes on for thirty years with no reasonable disposition to meet your satisfaction. This letter is designed to shut you the hell up, while the problem not only goes unresolved but actually gets worse. What alternative does this leave us? Drink the brown water and Shut the F*** Up?

We have no other choice except to drink it. We can go without eating for weeks, but we cannot go without water for more than three days. I have been so dehydrated in my life that I drank water from strange places. In ten block, when they would periodically shut the water off for days because someone was "ripping out," I would drink from the toilet bowl. I used to wash my clothes in it, so why not? The toilet is also a good point to place your head with a towel over it when they throw gas down the tier. Keep your head deep in the bowl and keep flushing until the gas dissipates. Plug your sink up with toilet paper and keep it filled with water when the water does return to clear. You can't put it in containers. Not even coffee cups, because those items will be confiscated during a shakedown that were not issued to you by them. That includes things like sty*ro*foam containers from breakfast, or if you are lucky enough to find one, an empty soda bottle from the trash.

I am, or I used to be, a connoisseur of scotch whiskey. I can tell blindfolded the difference between Glenlivit, Ambassador 25, or Johnny Walker Blue. Today, I blindfolded can tell you the prison the water came from by taste. Sometimes it has the same caramel color as scotch, so I close my eyes and pretend.

   Joe Labriola

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